6th August 2013 at 20:23 #566646
Anonymous6th August 2013 at 20:23 #566647
As this was a ‘trial’ flight for the A380, the service was standard European short-haul, so I will focus on the aircraft rather than the service. My previous A380 flying experience has been on Qantas in business on the upper deck – what I saw today was the lower deck…..a sniff at First before they hastily drew the curtains, the CW cabin and the WT cabin, where I sat.
Boarding started 30 minutes before take-off time – not necessary for a lightly loaded trial flight to Frankfurt, but probably a realistic time required to board a full long-haul flight. The CW cabin certainly has a spacious feel to it, with higher ceiling than the upper deck and on other wide-bodied planes (or maybe it is my imagination). Also the aisles seemed wider than CW on a 777 or 747. The seats looked like they had been slightly upgraded – I think I would enjoy CW to LAX or HKG.
Moving into the WT cabin, my seat was 21A, the 2nd row of the cabin. The first row (ABC) has lots of leg room as it is by an exit, with two crew seats opposite, but there is no window and I heard the lady in 20A complain of the cold air she was experienceing being right next to the exit. The seat itself is comfy enough with good lumbar support as well as more comfortable side wings to the headrest than on current 747s and 777s. The seat back video has to be a significant improvement on the current WT screen, and although the IFE was not in operation on the flight to FRA, it is the latest BA offering. The USB power socket in the seat back is also a required ‘innovation’ these days.
However, the seat feels ‘snug’ at best. With a seat pitch of 31 inches, it is much tighter than my return flight from FRA today on an A319, for example. It feels more claustrophobic and with the size of cabin too, I am not sure I would enjoy 12 hours to LAX if all three seats were occupied. There is also a problem with stowage under the seat, as there is a vertical box under each seat containing (I assume) the IFE kit, and also protruding legs between the seats. When these are combined, stowing bags and leaving room for legs and feet does not seem to be a comfortable option. The middle seat was empty and so I stowed my briefcase under the middle seat in front, but even then, with the IFE box and the central leg, I did not have much leg room. So I have to say I am not sure that this is a step forward for passenger comfort.
The aircraft itself is very quiet, even on take off. However, the raising and lowering of the under carriage is by contrast quite noisy with quite a lot of thumping going on (admittedly I think the undercarriage was right below me). The extending and raising of the flaps is also very noisy and, if you are not a regular traveller, potentially quite disconcerting.
On this trial flight to FRA the safety demo was manual and there were no taped announcements in German, as is usual on this route. The crew did seem to be working things out as they went along. The drinks trolley is quite large and the crew could not reach across to the other side, so it definitely needs two crew using each trolley.
We were not allowed up onto the upper deck, so I could not judge WT+, nor the 2-3-2 config of CW.
As others have said, the ‘new’ hardware is hardly revolutionary, but I think I would certainly enjoy a CW long haul flight on the A380. However, WT looked and felt cramped, and there would have to be very careful seat selection to ensure I got the best out of the new WT environment.
Just as a postcript, the flight left the gate 25 minutes late and made a very sedate progress round to the runway. At least when we landed in Frankfurt we weren’t on the new runway which takes a normal aircraft 25 minutes to taxi to the gate from! Gate D4 is the normal gate for BA 902, even when it is the usual 767, with two jetties available for the A380, although we only used one to disembark. Most other BA flights into FRA use remote stands and busses – I cant imagine how long it would take to disembark a full A380 using busses!!
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